15 Apr How Businesses Should Communicate to Their Audiences During a Crisis
The message you put forth during a crisis speaks volumes about your brand and can have a major impact on your brand image. Now is the time to put a lot of thought and care into how you represent your business considering the strains the coronavirus pandemic has put on everyone around the globe.
Although they may seem worlds apart, businesses and consumers alike are facing a variety of serious stressors that affect the economy during a crisis. These situations require a considerate tone and an air of grace to let your audience know you care about what’s going on and that you’re there for them.
When to Make a Statement on a Crisis
Know your boundaries. There’s a time and a place for businesses to comment on a crisis, and it shouldn’t be the very second the news breaks. You should wait for reputable sources, like government agencies, professional researchers, and universities, to step forth and be the first source of information. As a business owner, you don’t want to make yourself liable for any potential misinformation. It’s also important for your audience to realize it’s beyond your scope of work to be their main source of information during a crisis.
On the other hand, shying away from the crisis and simply pretending it’s not there can hurt your business. When the entire world is worried about if they can safely leave their homes or how they’re going to work, you can’t pretend it’s not happening.
Instead, cite reputable sources throughout your statements and share infographics they’ve created. Spread the information, don’t be a source for it.
How to Avoid Offending Your Audience
Careful, considerate wording is key to making sure your message doesn’t offend your audience. Take on an empathetic tone; let the public know you understand the severity of the crisis and that you genuinely care about those who are impacted. A crisis isn’t just about you, so don’t make your message a sob story about how it’s affected your sales.
How you market your brand also dances on a very fine line between offending the audience and letting them know you have supplies that could be useful during the crisis. Don’t sensationalize or commercialize a crisis. Rather than saying, “Bored at home because of social distancing? Check out our brand new entertainment products!” a more appropriate message might be, “Our entertainment products are here to provide you with a positive distraction during these stressful times. We’re offering curbside pickup or delivery to ensure the safety of our customers and our staff. Your wellbeing matters to us.”
Helping Others During a Crisis Can Benefit Your Brand
Now more than ever, customers want to know the core values of their brand, Davidson Branding reports. This means conducting your company with a sense of “human-ness”: a personable tone and a brand that makes their stance on pressing issues known to the public. Be proactive and get involved, whether this means donating a portion of the profits to non-profit organizations or donating supplies (food, water, toiletries, face masks, etc…) to those in need.
You can also give customers the option to donate to a non-profit organization at checkout. This gives them the option to donate however much they would like and it demonstrates your involvement in assisting with emergency relief.
Let your audience know whether you’re still operating and how they can still receive goods from your business. For example, are you exclusively fulfilling online orders, or do you provide curbside pickup? Provide a solid explanation for the shift and orientate it toward your audience.
You should also be transparent about how your business is operating. Are your staff working remotely? How are you assisting those who can’t go to work due to the crisis? What precautionary and sanitation methods are you taking to ensure your products are contaminant-free? Where are your products shipping from? These are all very pertinent questions at the forefront of consumers’ minds that need to be answered.
Support Your Customers
Crisis situations put financial strains on everyone. Without a paycheck to rely on, consumers have to pool their resources for supplies while they wait for a form of relief. You should offer support to your customers however you can and encourage them to contact your customer service. Offering coupons or personalized discounts alleviates some of the financial stress and is very enticing to consumers.
Along with supporting your customers, let them know that you value their business. This can be achieved through an automated thank you email or a follow-up sent by a customer service representative.
Watch What Other Businesses Are Saying
You shouldn’t copy what your competitor is Tweeting or emailing during a crisis, but this can help you get a better sense of how other businesses within your industry are conveying themselves during the crisis. What type of messages are they putting out? What precautionary measures have they taken? Learn by example and see what might be appropriate to offer your audience.
It’s also important to note that a crisis isn’t a competition, it’s about coming together as a community and supporting each other however you can. You could also partner with other businesses to help promote each other during this time period.
Put Yourself in the Customer’s Shoes
Last, but most certainly not least, view the message you’re putting out from the customer’s perspective. How would your statement make you feel? What would you take away from what you’re saying?
You should also have other staff members and administrators review any messages before they’re sent out and ask for their perspective. It always helps to have another set of eyes on your work, and they might spot areas that come off as blase or unsympathetic when that wasn’t your intention at all.
Empathy is at the heart of it all. Be delicate with your wording and do your research before making any statements on the situation. How you handle yourself during these stressful and uncertain periods will have a lasting impact on how consumers perceive your brand image.
If you have any questions about how to craft your message, please contact us. Geary Company Advertising is here to help you grow through these tough times.